Fresh off the release of his graphic novel “Aqua Leung,” the latest edition of his “PopGun” anthology, and with the second volume of “The Amazing Joy Buzzards” coming up in the fall, writer Mark Andrew Smith is not slowing down. His latest book from Image Comics, “Kill All Parents,” concerns a diabolical plan to ensure that all children with superpowers grow up to become superheroes. Smith stopped by CBR News to talk about the book and the inspiration for an idea rooted in the very beginnings of the superhero genre.
On sale in June and illustrated by Marcelo Dichiara, “’Kill All Parents’ is the story of a brilliant scientist who creates a powerful machine that can see far ahead into the future,” Smith told CBR News. “The machine, as it gazes into the immediate future, sees doom destruction and chaos. The scientist spends years desperately trying to plug different scenarios into the machine to steer clear of the future to come and save humanity. The solution is less than ideal but something that must be done,” which is to establish a government organization that kills superhero parents.
“The main characters are superheroes that have lost their parents and they live a life that's very melancholic and have many emotional problems because of this,” Smith continued. “In a way we have our own Avengers or Justice League with all these heroes working together. “
“Kill All Parents” has its roots in the very roots of many classic superhero characters. Explained Smith, “During film school, I was doing research on comic books in the library at [the University of California in Santa Barbara] and I stumbled on a book [titled] 'The Psychology of Superheroes’ by Robin Rosenberg. In the book, it talks about the common thread of so many superheroes having the loss of a parent and as I was reading it something just went off in my head and clicked.
“There's such a shared piece of mythology that superheroes have in common for their origins with the loss of their parents or loved ones early on in their lives so it's really connecting the dots and creating an explanation and a grand scheme for why that is. So here the question was 'Why do so many superheroes lose their parents in their origin stories?’ and let's create an answer for this and come up with a story. As the gears in my head started to move the ideas began to spill forth onto the page in a frenzy and 'Kill All Parents’ was created. It's taking a common pattern in superheroes, the death of a parent, and out of that creating a reason for this event and explaining the true reason behind it. “
Smith wrote the book with a particular set of comics readers in mind. “’Kill All Parents’ is a story for people who know superhero comics well and devour them,” Smith said. “Readers of mainstream superhero comics need to read 'Kill All Parents.’ They are the target audience. [Marvel and DC readers] will really get a lot of enjoyment out of the story and appreciate it greatly.”
Bringing this world of orphaned heroes to life is artist Marcelo Dichiara. Said Smith, “Marcelo is an amazing, skilled talent, and so professional to work with. He knows and enjoys super-heroes much. He sells everything through his art for this world and you believe it. He doesn't take shortcuts. He's a great talent. I'm very lucky to work with him.”
Smith chose an unusual format to tell his story. In an industry where finite stories take the form of either miniseries or full-on graphic novels, the writer decided to go for a tighter package with a 36-page one-shot that he says is full of story. “It's a one-shot but a slightly oversized one-shot by four more pages than usual. It's a sweet, sweet, format and you can read the story all in one sitting. The one shot as a format is something I love and have a great passion for. I think there's something that, at its foundation, is pure in taking up a single issue as a format and trying to fill it with a story from cover to cover. I'm not a fan of doing 22 pages and then having 10 pages of ads. I like to fill books up and have nothing but story in between and 36 pages is a good amount of room to put everything you've got into a story and wrap it up. With singles I feel terrible if there is any extra space, even one page, that's not story. I probably shouldn't feel like this but I always do.
“I tried for 32 pages with 'Kill All Parents’ but we ended up going over by four pages and I was very stressed out about this. I asked [Image Publisher] Erik Larsen if I could do more pages and he was open to it and gave me the green light. Had that not been the case I would have been banging my head around a bit. So a big thank you is due.”
However, Smith’s not necessarily done after those 36 pages. But while more of “Kill All Parents” is a possibility, the writer has a number of other projects scheduled throughout the year. “The Amazing Joy Buzzards: Volume One” will be out May 7, collecting the first two Joy Buzzards books in a 300-page digest-sized book that Smith characterizes as a “director's cut.”
"The Amazing Joy Buzzards Volume Two" will follow in September in the form of an original graphic novel called “Monster Love.” “It will be very interesting because that's a real change in format as well because we started 'Amazing Joy Buzzards’ off in single issues and, for this, we've got the space to loosen up a bit and tell a full story in the pages,” Smith said. “So the first volume of 'Buzzards’ is really like a TV show and this new one is like a feature film. “
In November, Smith will release another original graphic novel, “The New Brighton Archeological Society.” “I'm really excited about it as a project and having a lot of fun working on it,” the writer said. “It's an all ages read but full of adventure, action, cool creatures, and great characterization.”
“Kill All Parents” is released June 18 from Image Comics.
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